Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of speaking out for causes and issues that align with its mission and values, which often gets political. During the 2016 US general election it launched ‘Empower Mint’ as a part of its work with the NAACP to raise awareness of voting barriers in states like Florida, North Carolina and Texas.
In 2009 it renamed its popular ‘Chubby Hubby’ flavor to ‘Hubby Hubby’ in support of marriage equality. The list of examples extends back through the brand’s 40-year history, as it has never shied away from making a statement.
On October 30 Ben & Jerry’s introduced ‘Pecan Resist’, a limited flavor and campaign “to lick injustice and champion those fighting to create a more just and equitable nation for us all.”
The ice cream recipe is a re-name and re-packaging of its existing New York Super Fudge Chunk flavor, described as chocolate ice cream with white and dark fudge chunks, pecans, walnuts and fudge-covered almonds. The special pints can only be purchased through the Ben & Jerry’s website or at its participating Scoop Shops for a limited time.
The announcement on social media generated immediate feedback, mixed with both positive and negative reactions, which doesn’t affect Ben & Jerry’s decisions to talk about its political opinions.
Lindsay Bumps, PR representative at Ben & Jerry’s, told DairyReporter, “There are people that support anything we do and people that do not want to support things we do. But I think the important thing here is that this is a campaign that goes to support all of the issues we believe in.”
She shared that Ben & Jerry’s worked on the ‘Pecan Resist’ campaign for most of 2018 to release it in time for the midterm elections on November 6.
“There’s a lot being done with the current administration that counteracts our beliefs. We felt very compelled to speak out and we couldn’t be silent any longer in the face of what’s going on,” Bumps said.
Color Of Change designs campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champions solutions that move everyone forward.
Honor the Earth works on issues of climate change, renewable energy and environmental justice with Indigenous communities.
Women’s March is committed to harnessing the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.
Neta is one of the fastest-growing independent media platforms led by people of color along the Texas-Mexico border.
Spoons of solidarity
A pop-up on the main Ben & Jerry’s site introduces the flavor and encourages customers to sign up for email information about the four advocacy groups the campaign supports. It also shows how to find local polling places and displays the following statement:
“We honor and stand with women, immigrants, people of color and the millions of activists and allies who are courageously resisting the President's attack on our values, humanity and environment. We celebrate the diversity of our glorious nation and raise our spoons in solidarity for all Americans. Take a stand and join those on the front lines at benjerry.com/pecanresist.”
The biggest part of ‘Pecan Resist’ is Ben & Jerry’s support of groups and activists that are resisting oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice. It is donating a total of $100,000 to them, with $25,000 each going to Color of Change, Honor the Earth, Women’s March and Neta.
‘Pecan Resist’ also features the work of Favianna Rodriguez, the artist commissioned to create the design on the pints. Rodriguez is an activist, speaker and organizer in addition to an artist. She is also director of CultureStrike, an arts-driven social-justice nonprofit.
“I've always felt very much engaged in politics — not because I wanted to, but because inequality was just so blatant … I think that all art is political. I think that art is always an expression of a human experience, and I very much believe that the arts are central to our society,” she said.
“I wanted the [pint] design to feel positive, and I wanted the color palette to invoke the natural world. Our fight for the environment is connected to our fight for human rights. I wanted to have characters of color who look dignified, but who also look like they are having fun.”